26 August 2013

Google may be crafting its own self-driving cars, tinkering with robo-taxis

Driving in the lane of innovation

What do you do when no one is jumping to join you on a whacked-out journey? Go it alone, of course.

That appears to be the case with Google and its self-driving cars, as Amir Efrati reported over at Jessica Lessin's blog that Google is designing and developing its very own, bumper-to-tailpipe automobile.

People familiar with the matter said Google's been chatting up contract manufacturers about building a vehicle using its specifications. The go-around reportedly comes as major car makers still haven't teamed up with Mountain View to incorporate the company's self-driving tech in their products.

If showing up to a Google dealership and leaving the lot with a Model G self-driver sounds appealing, Google apparently has one more for you: According to Efrati, the company's considered a sort of "robo-taxi" service that would have autonomous cars driving around, picking up passengers on demand.

It's unclear if Google would run the service or run it through another company. While a human would need to sit behind the wheel in case of emergencies to start, Google is said to be looking into how it can bring the auto-taxi concept to the masses.

Autonomous like a fox

Google is said to be in talks with auto parts maker Continental AG. Efrati's sources backed up this assertion, also noting that Google has spoken with Magna International, a major car component supplier.

Despite these powwows, Google still seems to be teetering on whether it will pursue a partnership to build a car based on its own design. One of Efrati's sources said Google hasn't given up on hooking up its self-driving tech in a big car brand's auto, so all avenues seem open at this point.

And really, at the end of the day, Google may merely want to keep self-driving tech at the forefront of car makers' craniums. Indeed, someone with knowledge of Google's efforts noted the company aims to pressure major car brands into developing autonomous-navigation tech, even if that means not teamin with Google.

With the Frankfurt Motor Show due up in early September, we could have a lot coming from Google that's radically different an OS update or new piece of hardware. To be honest, the prospect's a little exhilarating.

Now read: Google is evidently working on real-time mobile translation tech


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